The time was two o’clock. The gates were still thronged, although to the people already on the stands it was a puzzle where the newcomers were going to find seats. On the east side of the field Yates held open house. From end to end, and overflowing half way around both north and south stands, the blue of Yates fluttered in the little afternoon breeze till that portion of the field looked like a bank of violets.
On the west stand tier after tier of crimson arose until it waved against the limitless blue of the sky. Countless flags dipped and circled, crimson bonnets gleamed everywhere, and great bunches of swaying chrysanthemums nodded and becked to each other. All collegedom with its friends and relations was here; all collegedom, that is, within traveling distance; beyond that, eager eyes were watching the bulletin boards from Maine to Mojave.
The cheering had begun. Starting at one end of the west stand the slogan sped, section by section, growing in volume as it went, and causing the crimson flags and banners to dance and leap in the sunlight. Across the field answering cheers thundered out and the bank of violets trembled as though a wind ruffled it. In front of the north stand the Yates college band added the martial strains of The Stars and Stripes Forever to the general pandemonium of enthusiasm.
Then along the west stand a ripple of laughter which grew into a loud cheer traveled, as a bent and decrepit figure attired in a long black frock coat and high silk hat, the latter banded with crimson ribbon, came into sight down the field. It was the old fruit seller of Harwell, whose years are beyond reckoning, and who is remembered by the oldest graduates. On he came, his old, wrinkled face grimacing in toothless smiles, his ribboned cane waving in his trembling hand, and his well-nigh bald head bowing a welcome to the watchers. For it was not he who was the guest, for from time almost immemorial the old fruit seller has presided at the contests of Harwell, rejoicing in her victories, lamenting over her defeats. Down the line he limped, while gray-haired graduates and downy-lipped undergrads cheered him loyally, calling his name over and over, and so back to a seat in the middle of the stand, from where all through the battle his crimson-bedecked cane waved unceasingly.
He was not the only one welcomed by the throng. A great jurist, chrysanthemumed from collar to waist, bowed jovial acknowledgment of the applause his appearance summoned. The governor of a State came too to see once more the crimson of his alma mater clashing with the blue of her old enemy. Professors, who had put aside their books, beamed benevolently through their glasses as they walked somewhat embarrassedly past the grinning faces of their pupils. Old football players, former captains, bygone masters of rowing, commanders of olden baseball teams, all these and many more were there and were welcomed heartily, tumultuously, by the wearers of the red. And through it all the cheers went on, the college songs were sung, and the hearts of youth and age were happy and glad together.